Windows Home Server 2011, SBS 2011 Essentials Poised for Release

Microsoft engineering teams finished work on Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (SBS 2011 Essentials) and Windows Home Server 2011 (WHS 2011) on Tuesday.

According to Microsoft's announcements at the SBS blog and Windows Home Server blog, the next step is for Microsoft's hardware partners to image the software onto their upcoming server products -- work that OEMs and systems builders have already started, Microsoft says.

Final server hardware products running WHS 2011 (formerly code-named "Vail") and SBS 2011 Essentials (formerly code-named "Aurora") could start hitting the market as early as May, according to Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Microsoft released SBS 2011 Standard (formerly code-named "Windows SBS 7") to its volume licensing customers, along with the SBS 2011 Premium Add-on product. SBS Standard 2011 is designed for up to 75 users, whereas SBS 2011 Essentials supports up to 25 users. WHS 2011 supports up to 10 PCs and can be used by both home users and small businesses.

Microsoft expects to roll out a free trial copy in early April for both WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials. In addition, Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be able to download the software for both of those servers in that same timeframe. The software for both servers will be released in 19 languages.

Microsoft's volume licensing customers will be able to get SBS 2011 Essentials starting May 1.

WHS 2011 is a 64-bit product based on Windows Server 2008 R2 technology. WHS 2011 is designed to network PCs in the home, provide backup service and manage multimedia files. Microsoft added a few enhancements with this release of WHS 2011, as summarized in this Microsoft document (Word download).

One of the WHS 2011 improvements is the addition of DNLA 1.5 compliance for electronic devices. Microsoft is also promising easier server installation, including the ability to install WHS 2011 via a Web page. The server will support Apple Mac clients out of the box and its HomeGroup functionality facilitates connecting devices and PCs.

Other WHS 2011 improvements include a centralized management dashboard and alerts that are shown for each user. Backup has been improved to support both PCs and Macs. Microsoft added wizards to configure backups and enabled restoration of single files. WHS 2011 users can gain access to documents and files remotely using a Web browser, and they can also access them via an Apple iPhone or Windows Mobile-based device.

Release candidate versions of WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials were rolled out last month. The differences between the two servers are described in greater detail here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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